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UNICEF slams Tigers Child recruitment continuing under cover of ceasefire

The United Nations Childrens Fund has expressed deep concern over reports that the LTTE is continuing the recriitment of child soldiers despite a cessation of hostilities and plans for peace talks.

" We have had reports that children are still forcibly being taken and even during the ceasefire period, a lot of pressure is being put on children to join the LTTE, " UNICEFs Colombo chief Colin Glennie said.

" Reports indicate there is intense psychological pressure to join the LTTE while a few cases of physical abductions were also reported. Older people are also being taken forcibly." he said.

Mr Glennie said UNICEF was making representations to the LTTE directly to adhere to the commitments it made to the UNs special representative Olara Otunu in May 1998 to refrain from recruiting child combatants. But, he said, the LTTE appeared to be violating its pledge.

Mr Glennie said that after 1998 pledge the LTTE had put up banners andposters, proclaiming there would be no child recruitments. But these appear to be largely slogans and the abuse of childdren was contining.

Meanwhile, the Government Information Department also said on Wednesday there were reports that the LTTE was on a recruitment drive in Kiran, asking every family to send at least one child.

Military spokesman Sanath Karunaratne, however,declined to comment on the reports.


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